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Much more in store for Maple in the County’s 10th festival

Liam cuddles three-week-old goats "Day" and "Night" during Friday's launch for Maple in the County celebrations. Sue Capon photo

It’s a sure sign of spring when Taste The County launches its celebration of maple syrup, the first harvest of the year.
The 10th annual Maple in the County Festival is designed to salute Prince Edward’s maple syrup producers and invite visitors to learn about one of the oldest agricultural traditions in Canada.

On this 10th anniversary, the weekend has included more events than ever before. Maple in the County will feature trips to sugar bushes, farms, entertainment, family fun and maple focuses at wineries, restaurants and shops Saturday, March 26 and Sunday, March 27.  More than 100 local businesses, organizations and community groups in 40 locations have organized a weekend packed with activities, entertainment and events.

At the event’s media launch Friday, Ron Hubbs, president of the Quinte Chapter of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association, shared some history of maple syrup production in the County. He noted that in 1849, Hillier Township produced 34,000 pounds of sugar (eight pounds makes one four litre can of syrup) and by 1852, all the producers in the County had made 219,000 pounds of sugar.
“This is a pretty rich history in Prince Edward County. This is 1848 – 10 or 12 years before tin was (in full use) which was a huge step for the maple industry,” Hubbs said.
He gave brief histories of Maple in the County’s five producer sponsors, including Ron, Janice and Steve Hubbs, of Sweetwater Cabin – Hubbs Sugarbush; Cliff and Dean Foster of Fosterholm Farms; The Vader family; JC Nyman Farms and the Stone Family.
The Vader family has the longest running maple operation in the County with more than 100 years of production. Todd Vader continues production on the farm that his great grandfather bought in 1910. The family tends an astounding 2,500 taps on direct lines to the sugarshack, and about 300 old-fashioned buckets in areas where they can’t string lines.

Taste the County executive director Kathleen Kennedy noted that every year more than 8,000 visitors and local residents enjoy a trip to one of the sugar bushes to experience everything from lip-smacking pancake breakfasts, sugar shack demonstrations, sugar bush tours, taffy on snow, maple kettle corn, wagon rides, lumberjack shows, baby animals or an antique tractor display.
New events this year include Maple Family Day, Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the new Wellington arena with workshoops, children’s entertainers, puppet show, stilt walking, a communal papier mache project and face painting.

The award-winning Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co invites visitors to try many of their handmade and cave-aged cheeses – including the Royal Winter Fair’s 2010 Reserve Champion Goat Cheddar. The retails store will be featuring their People’s Choice award-winning Maple Chevre Cheese Cake tarts and the new maple Quark. Visit Fifth Town at  www.fifthtown.ca

The Picton BIA will hold its Maple Madness Celebration downtown Picton on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The main events will take place on Elizabeth Street where an urban-like celebration will consist of family fun activities such as a Rock Climbing Wall, face painting, fiddle entertainment, magic show, s’mores over an open fire. Also new this year is a Spring Craft Market to be held above Books & Company on Main Street, Picton featuring locally-made items including beauty products, clothing and food. For downtown Picton’s Maple Madness Events, visit www.experiencepicton.com

For everything Maple – schedules, producers, events, a map of participants and more, visit www.mapleinthecounty.ca

Watch this countylive.ca video by Barry Silverthorn, from the 2009 event.

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